Dave Webster, Director of Webster Consulting, and ten other die-hard endurance competitors have decided to cycle from London to Amsterdam in September 2012 to raise funds for the Berkshire Cancer Centre Fund. The idea was conceived well before Tour de France 2012 winner Bradley Wiggins started his superb race. The idea was muted after three of this years riders had just completed their London to Paris ride.
For details of this years ride click on the link
The team will be updating a progress on route blog like last year whilst on route however if you would like to read a summary, courtesy of support driver Nathan Porter as to what happened last year read on…
Starring – John Nicklin (Credit Card), Mark Overdown (Womble), Dave Webster (BetYa), Nathan Porter (Brummie), Tracey Porter (Saint).
A dark cold 5am in Reading, the mobile rings. “where’s No.25 then ?” I have no idea as I live at 24 ! As I look out of the window I spy a lone car in the mist cruising up and down my road, BetYa has been to my house many times…. A fine start I thought to myself, how on earth will he find Paris!
As we arrive at Chateau Nicklin, Credit card is loading the support vehicle with what can only be described as part of the national grid. Every charger and cable known to man is stuffed into every orifice and fag lighter, along with three hundred weight of bananas. As I peer into the cable laden car I notice a distinct lack of bike spares.
“Where’s the spares” I asked. BetYa proudly offers me one spoke! “Nice” was all I could muster, and threw the thing into the mass of cables strewn on the floor.
I look across to Womble who just has a look of fear on his face as he forces his “50p designer plastic tartan laundry/blanket” bag into the tangled mass that has now spilt over into the boot.
“I know Nelsons column is in London somewhere” shouts Credit Card as we drive down the Mall. “Oh sod it, let’s just start here”
Womble jumps out and starts running down the Mall sounding like a mad horse in his cycle shoes, “I really need the loo”, not a good idea in the Mall at rush hour!
Months of preparation had paid off though, “Lets blow the tyres up then” announced Credit Card !!!
“Errrr, no, never heard of a Mr Nicklin” Not really the reply I wanted to hear from the campsite owner. All turned out well though as they had literally NO ONE staying in this ghost town of a campsite
“I can squeeze you in here mate, but only use spaces 1 to 4”. I could have erected a damn circus tent there and no one would have been any the wiser.
Upon unloading the car we found that BetYa had managed to pack every bottle of liquid upside down with the top off, this included chain oil, energy drinks and an unknown. So with clothes, bags and tents dripping in toxic waste, Saint and I start erecting the tents in a force 9.
“Right, where are the pegs?”
A phone call to Credit Card revealed that he had lent the tents to a mate who had forgot to put the pegs back in the tent bags. At this point, the wind was so strong that the tent took off like kite, flipped over and had engulfed me, trapping me inside with no way out. Saint to the rescue.
The final tent, I say tent in the loosest of terms, was what can only be described as a pop up dog kennel, large enough for at least a cramped three year old child. We later discovered that Womble hadn’t done much camping! He too had no tent pegs, so at least we had consistency. Luckily, I had bought along spare pegs, and we did have a contingency plan of the one spare spoke.
The last thing Credit Card said to me in London was “Brummie, don’t forget breakfast, bacon, that’s what we need.” So, me and the Saint go in search of; bread, coffee, tea, milk, tomato ketchup and BACON, not easy to track down in a ghost town.
The mobile rings “Brummie, I’m nearly there, where are you ?” shouts BetYa over the background din of traffic. Saint and I dutifully wait at the side of the road to welcome the boys. The lone figure of BetYa appears over the brow of the hill.
“Where’s the others?” I ask. “Fannying about somewhere”, hey, that’s team work. Ten minutes later Womble and Credit Card leisurely ride into view, “that knob just won’t wait, he even took on a bus, a lorry and delivery van”. “I got the bacon” was my response. “Sod that, I want a full English and a decent cuppa” replied a disgusted Credit Card.
After the appearance and extensive usage of more techno than has ever appeared on the Gadget Show it was time to get the beds in place. Womble blew up his 3 foot My Little Pony mattress, Credit Card and BetYa had beautiful cot beds.
Now, for those of you who know Credit Card you will know he has a tendency to play with his gentleman bits while thinking. They must have been pretty sore after the amount of thinking he undertook attempting to fit a 6 foot cot bed in a 5 foot tent. Red nads and many attempts later it was decided that 6 inches overhang either side of the tent was the way forward.
Not surprising really when a no eyed Michael Winner look alike peered out of the tent the following morning greeting all with “ohhh, it was bloody cold last night, Brummie, put the bacon and coffee on please, I can’t be arsed to get out of my sleeping bag and find a café”.
The Saint cooked a fine bacon butty and even Womble was impressed as he unfurled himself from his Toys R Us, my first play tent.
As we queued for the ferry we admired the vintage cars in front of us, however, to the annoyance of Credit Card the car in front had to be pushed onto the ferry. Credit Card is not the most patient of humans so we all had to endure the electric headrest going up and down, the seat warmer switching on and off, the seat rising and falling and every CD in the changer being played for 3 seconds before boredom set in yet again, once every button in the car had been pressed many times the only thing remaining was scratching the nads……nice.
France. It was a little tricky getting used to driving on the wrong side of the road. Four times round the first roundabout in Dieppe found us in a Travellers car park. “Let’s get changed here then” Credit Card declared. We had only had 4 hours to complete this task on the ferry ! At least the site of 3 naked cyclists kept the Travellers amused for a few minutes. Low and behold, out comes the pump again. Credit Card is obsessed with getting his tyres to 300 psi.
“Brummie, campsite is here,,,,,somewhere” Credit Card waved his finger over the map. On arrival, one of the many, many pharmacists inform us that there has never been a campsite in the area and that the nearest one was a further 20 miles away up a steep hill. “I aint cycling more than 50 miles today” screamed Credit Card down the phone, after ignoring him we drove to the site, car straining up the hill. It certainly is quite an achievement to find a campsite in the only town in France without a restaurant, but it did have a Pharmacy.
The silent darkness of the campsite was shattered by the screams of “Brummie, where am ya?” a phone call would have been more appropriate.
“Brummie, we stink, where are the showers ?” well, a shower head on hose connected to a cold tap was hardly welcoming.
So the guys decided against it and rock up stinking to an up market restaurant in a village some 25 miles away. Silence and stares greeted us as we entered the eatery. “Bloody hell, this is cheap” so we went for it. Credit Card educated us in French etiquette, the French for “excuse me, can I have another cider please?” is actually to point at your bottle and shout “MORE”. We also discovered that our French was not up to scratch and we had ordered from the lunch menu, hence the price. So 400 euro later and stinking even more, we left for beds.
What a glorious morning. However, the stench of a hundred miles in the saddle without a shower had attracted a mad dog and a herd of cows but this didn’t put us off. Out comes the pump and then disaster as Credit Cards tyre hissed like an adder. “Looks like the tyre has a hole in it, got any sellotape ?”
With a taped up tyre Credit card made it 20 yards before the tyre spectacularly exploded. As our spares only included bananas and a spoke, we were in dire straits. Luckily, Credit card had spotted a hypermarket some 20 miles away. Guess what, they had bike tyres, maybe not the correct size, but they did have a supply. So we bought that cycling essential,,,,a rugby ball ! and a tyre that may fit. It didn’t fit. To top it all Credit Cards credit card was refused, not a good day so far.
It was agreed the previous evening that a 5am start would be good. A few bike modifications, to get the tyre to fit, the guys headed off at 12pm. Paris, here we come.
With half an inch to spare, we limbo’d the car into the hotel car park and was informed that it would cost 5 euro for 24 hours parking, bonus.
Success, the guys made it, not to the Eifel Tower, as that is too difficult to find in Paris but to Jim Morrison’s grave. An extra 3 hours to navigate the Paris streets and BetYa to buckle his wheel in the slats of bridge when he fell off, they made it.
After a well earned shower it was time for a beer. The square outside the hotel looked inviting and peaceful, even the Jimmy Tarbuck lookalike barman was friendly until the bottles on his tray were snatched and used as missiles in a riot. Credit Card scratched his nads and announced that he was off to the Irish Bar as there was live music and he would sus out the rugby for the following day. Worst band in France, no rugby, time for the oz bar, they must have rugby on. Nope, no rugby, just a transvestite that Credit Card was fascinated by and prompted severe nad juggling.
When in Paris, have a Thai supper ! but make sure you order everything from the lunchtime menu again as it’s so much cheaper. Another 400 euro later and another argument with the waitress we left to get a late night coffee. Try it, try getting a coffee in Paris after 9pm, impossible. A bottle of Lebanese wine later and a pipe, we were off to bed.
“Sir, we did not say 5 euro to park your car, we informed you it was 39 euro” A big argument later we managed to negotiate a freebee and then had a picnic breakfast in the road at the front of the hotel.
Credit Card announced that as we didn’t need to get to the docks till 3am we should go to Honfleur for lunch. Before lunch was over, Credit Card stated that he was bored and wanted to get a ferry that night. All of the techno came out again in an attempt to secure a place on another ferry and we raced back to the car once we were informed we had half an hour to board the boat.
After an arduous five minutes on board, Credit Card was bored yet again. He impressively showed us two apps on the ipad, one that tracked ships, but it didn’t work when you were at sea ! and another that tracked aircraft that didn’t work on a plane ! He scratched his nads and proudly stated that cruises were for him.
“Are we nearly there?” were the last words I heard from him after 10 mins afloat as I settled down to listening to as many episodes of Desert Island Discs as I could find.